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My story…and something more

February 5th, 2010

It all started in 2008. I don’t know for what reason it did, but I stopped thinking about that question. I barely remember how it started. Lots of things happened since .

I only remember that my shoulder hurt, that I visited many doctors an that I was scared. The doctors , extremely relaxed, were telling me that I’m fine and I can go home and enjoy life, because that is what a 25 year old should do. I was never too hypochondriac, so I don’t know how or where did I find all the perseverance to keep seeing all those doctors , one after another, asking for a diagnosis.

I took their advices couple of times, but the pain didn’t care about what the doctors were saying or about my age. Without even knowing how and when, I found myself, after 6 months, in a medical clinic in Vienna, ( lucky me !, and please believe me when I say that, although I wished it wouldn’t be the case, I have enough arguments) mentally preparing myself  for the following day, when I was supposed to go through a  lymph node extraction surgery, because  the biopsy was the only way they could  confirm a lymphatic cancer diagnosis, which, they said, seemed almost a sure thing considering the symptoms and the blood test results.

It’s not a surprise anymore that in august 2008 the diagnosis was confirmed. Lymphatic cancer, (Hodgkin disease), stage IIB, Bulky.

 I immediately started the standard chemotherapy treatment recommended  by the hemato–oncologist in Vienna.

For my family all this was devastating. For me it was like an  earthquake. There are plenty of words that can describe the feelings I had , but they all seem empty now.

Also, its not a surprise anymore that my disease proved to be outside the statistics that were saying that 90% of  people with my type of disease are cured after the first line of standard treatment. 

I tried almost all chemotherapy protocols that are used to cure my type of cancer, I also “served” a strong dose of radiation therapy. Another lymph node biopsy. I tried also to “enjoy” a marrow absorption from the hip bone.

Considering all this, my disease, even if it did respond to chemotherapy for a while, got stubborn and decided to show me who’s the boss. And it managed to transform me from the perfect candidate  of a complete remission through standard treatment into a perfect candidate for an autologous stem cell transplant .

But, although I wouldn’t imagine that, taking into consideration the fact that I was a spoiled kid, I realized that I can be stubborn too. And I also realized the fact that I can be stronger, that I have only one “malfunction” (a major one, it’s true), but I am also equipped with a whole set of organs and systems that can fight, that can help me and that are on my side in this war against the disease.  The doctor was telling me the same thing, to think about the fact that I have a problem but beside that, I also have many healthy and strong organs.

I decided to finish this battle as a winner. And to be patient, if that’s required too. And to refuse to let anyone or anything stop me.  I’ve always had goals to reach but  none of them was so important like this one. So I decided to win …for me, for the loved ones, or just in order to beat the statistics…

I accepted the fact that in order to be able to fight the disease, I needed money, and in order to obtain the needed amount of money, I had to ask people for help, even if this seemed like a weakness, a lack of common sense, stepping on my ego, anything I can think of except the right thing to do. And still, I asked for help and I got it.

I think that what happened in August last year was like a true miracle. Solidarity, compassion, care and help – all of these granted unconditionally to me – a complete stranger to most of them. This experience changed my personal values and my way of thinking forever. In the best way possible. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think I was given life and friends. People that, not only helped me financially when I was out of options, but  people that I felt close to me when I was hospitalized for the transplant and after, in the recovery period. I was reading my mail almost daily and there were lots of questions, every one of them was having ME as a subject, how am I, how do I feel. Everyone was so close to me, praying for me, comforting me and believing in me. Thank you so much! I’m telling you, without any exaggeration, that you can never imagine how much it meant for me what you all did during those moments!

With your help I managed to start fighting the disease and to go through the first transplant. I did the transplant on the 16 th of October 2009 – a new birthday, as the doctors were telling me. And I even got a gift: the transplant. This helped me to get again a few steps ahead of the disease and to be able now to make plans for a second transplant, that even if the first one didn’t get my disease into remission, as we all hoped.  The first transplant managed to slow down the disease and gave me another chance to get back into the battle.  It gave me a couple more priceless months .

Looking back, although it’s not yet the moment to do that, I realize that I’ve been through a lot, that it was difficult, and that I’ve dragged the loved ones along with me through all this. But I realize that all this is worth it, not that I would ever doubt it. Any sacrifice, every pain and any won battle is surely worth the effort. I don’t want to pity myself or shiver in fear. I will stand tall and go forward.

I have one more step to take. A big step. A transplant. An experimental one. Experimental because they didn’t manage to find me a matching donor and they are forced to use umbilical cord stem cells as an alternative option. A transplant that is harder to bear, riskier, and more invasive than the previous one. But its my last chance against the disease. It’s my last card to play. My life  is at stake .

I didn’t start to write this story on the basis that I’m some sort of a talented writer or because I thought it’s a good story. But I also didn’t write it with a total lack of interest. I tried to expose my story from the beginning with the hope that this way, I can convince you one more time to offer me your help.

Because I still need help. For me, even this last card has a price tag. 140 000 Euros from which I lack 80 000 Euros. I realize, it’s a huge amount, but my life is at stake! And I can’t and I won’t give up now. I know that I can be cured, I know that I’m in good hands and I also know that things can change!

This is the reason I am writing to you. I’m trying to convince you that I deserve your help one more time. That I can’t give up the idea of winning the war after so many battles that I won. I want to be cured. I want to get back home, I want my life back. And of course I have big plans and dreams, but at this moment I wont start making any promises. I promised myself and I know I will keep my word.

But I need a chance! I need my life!

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